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Opinion >  Column

Dear Kiantha: Parenting requires an individual recipe for each child

Dear Kiantha,

My wife and I are expecting our first child. We are both excited and nervous. What are the top three things we should make sure our child knows?

Dear Friends,

Parenting is very exciting. However, trusting yourself to parent a child who will become a solid adult makes the best of us anxious.

As a grandmother, I look back at how I parented my own child, both the beautiful parts and the mistakes. Some of my parenting beliefs have changed since becoming a grandma – somehow everything my grandchildren do is cute or an expression of their personality. When my son sees me with my grandchildren, his running joke at my softness is, “Who are you?”

Parenting is the most complex yet simple task of a lifetime. Helping our children find their voice, personality, passion and purpose for being born requires a little of this and a little of that.

Like a tried-and-true family recipe, the ingredients are generally simple. The magic in cooking happens when we know how much of an ingredient is needed. A pinch, a dollop or a heaping cup. This formula is also true for parenting. And one of the keys to parenting is making sure you tailor your recipe for each child.

Critical to every child’s development is love, security, discipline, truth and exposure to more than what is in their immediate reach.

Loving your child to the best of your ability and with the understanding that you are learning as you go will help ease the pressure you feel as new parents. I will even skip to the end and share with you the big finale: There is no way you will get everything right. No parent has, and no parent will.

Children need to feel safe. When your newborn sees your face day after day, that becomes a security blanket. When your baby hears loving tones and words of affirmation, they are enveloped peacefully into an atmosphere of comfort and trust.

Discipline is essential to children understanding boundaries. While discipline comes in many forms, what is most important is that whatever form you choose for your child does not break their spirit or cause them to exist in perpetual fear. Exposure to things beyond their immediate reach allows children to understand that there are many parts to our complicated world, many of which they can someday impact and some outside of our immediate control.

Love them intensively, discipline them gently and always let them know how special they are to you, your family and the world.

Soul to soul,


Dear Kiantha can be read Fridays in The Spokesman-Review. To read this column in Spanish, visit To submit a question, please email

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